The experimental interventions that provide evidence of causal relations are notably similar to those that provide evidence of constitutive relevance relations. In the first two sections, I show that this similarity creates a tension: there is an inconsistent triad between (1) Woodward’s popular interventionist theory of causation, (2) Craver’s mutual manipulability account of constitutive relevance in mechanisms, and a variety of arguments for (3) the incoherence of inter-level causation. I argue for an interpretation of the views in which the tension is merely apparent. I propose to explain inter-level relations without inter-level causation by appealing to the notion of fat-handed interventions, and an argument against inter-level causation which dissolves the problem.
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Given that all direct causes are contributing causes, I write the conclusion in terms of the latter.
Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for Synthese for pushing me to clarify this section.
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I wish to thank Carl Craver, John Heil, Frederick Eberhardt, Lena Kästner, Lauren Olin, Isaac Wiegman, Mark Povich, and two anonymous reviewers for Synthese for comments on previous drafts. I also received helpful comments when this paper was presented at the 2012 Models and Mechanisms Conference, Tilburg University; and the 2013 St. Louis Area Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, University of Missouri in St.Louis.
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Romero, F. Why there isn’t inter-level causation in mechanisms. Synthese 192, 3731–3755 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-015-0718-0
- Mutual manipulability
- Inter-level causation